Opponent’s endorsement from Trump prompts vote leader to suspend N.C. congressional campaign

(The Center Square) – Brad Knott hasn’t won yet, but his opponent and leading vote-getter in North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District primary has suspended her campaign ahead of the May 14 runoff.

Former President Donald Trump – who else? – is the tipping point.

Kelly Daughtry, daughter of former gubernatorial candidate Leo Daughtry, made the announcement on Thursday afternoon. She cited Trump’s endorsement of Knott. In 2022, she lost a primary race against Trump-endorsed Bo Hines, who subsequently lost to now-U.S. Rep. Wiley Nickel, D-N.C.

“Brad has my full endorsement and I want him to know that I am here to support him, not to oppose him,” Daughtry said, adding her respect for the former president’s choice and unification of the party.

There’s no change to ballots. The 46-day window for casting a ballot on this election date began with early absentee voting ballots mailed on March 30. In-person early voting started April 25. Should Daughtry get more votes than Knott, she has the option to decline the nomination and allow an executive committee from the party in the district to appoint a candidate to the fall ballot.

Knott said despite the suspension, the race isn’t over and encouraged his supporters to vote.

Nickel cited new districting maps in choosing not to seek re-election. The winner of the Republican second primary has Democrat Frank Pierce waiting in the fall, though most politicos believe the district leans Republican and favors the winner between Knott and Daughtry.

On March 5, Daughtry led a 14-candidate field with 27.4% of the votes. Knott was second with 18.7% and Fred Von Canon third with 17.1%. Knott, by law, was required to request in writing the runoff if he chose since the winner didn’t collect 30% plus one vote. Von Canon has also endorsed Knott.

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